Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
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08-12-2014, 02:30 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:22 PM)tear151 Wrote:  A large portion of ethics was based on the idea that "God says so". So atheism makes a large part of accepted western philosophy unfounded as the God explanation can no longer be valid.

So, you're saying, there was no morality before God?

Not trying to spoil it for you, but a big part of ethics and western philosophy was based on Ancient Greek philosophers who had never heard of the God of the Old Testament and their religion dictated no moral code (or they were simply atheists).

Are you sure you've done your homework properly?

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08-12-2014, 02:32 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:25 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 12:06 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Morals dont exist outside of self interest, thus morality is a meaningless concept, any notion of morals outside of self interest is inchorent, thus the entire notion of morals is defunct, and there is only self interest, no good, no bad,.only maninfestations of the ego.

Then we could say that morality was "invented" for the well-being of society and by extension the well-being of humans.

If you don't like "good" and "bad", how about beneficial to life and harmful to life?

If there is no "good" or "bad", then we can say that murder is not good or bad, but we can say it is harmful to life. As living beings, we want to live and feel pleasure, thus the things that are beneficial to our well-being are "good".

Laws, as you said, are not enough. People who want to harm others are often not intimidated by a prison sentence. If I don't harm others, it's not because I will be punished, but rather because I feel empathy, and their pain is my pain. It's not like I can wake up one day and be like "well, let's not care about anyone today".

You may call that self interest, but there definitely is significance in what is "good" and "bad" if you think about the terms as "beneficial" and "harmful" to life.

If you just... subjectively care about those things, you have no reason not to, but equally nobody else has any reason to accept your views on the matter either. I personally care about the smooth running of society because I'm by nature a problem solver, and as someone who plans to work in academia I work mostly outside the regular gears of society, I'm not saying that as if it makes me better, in many ways it makes me pretty useless except to those who care about the academia. Again, that's something I've made up, it isn't by any means good or bad, as I have no objective standards, and it is not a "subjective morality" because it can be explained entirely in self interested terms, so to invent a new concept (I've started from literally nothing, remember, to start from nihilism assumes nothing, including not assuming morality) like "morality" to explain things simply isn't needed. It's a carry over from a theistic age, the term isn't needed.

Humans are naturally empathetic, so that empathy can be factored into ones own self interest. I'm basically applying occam's razor here, getting rid of the unneeded word "Morality" because it gives people too much leeway to be inconsistent.

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08-12-2014, 02:35 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2014 02:38 PM by tear151.)
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:30 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:22 PM)tear151 Wrote:  A large portion of ethics was based on the idea that "God says so". So atheism makes a large part of accepted western philosophy unfounded as the God explanation can no longer be valid.

So, you're saying, there was no morality before God?

Not trying to spoil it for you, but a big part of ethics and western philosophy was based on Ancient Greek philosophers who had never heard of the God of the Old Testament and their religion dictated no moral code (or they were simply atheists).

Are you sure you've done your homework properly?

The greeks had an ethics system based on what is good, being powerful, or brave, or a good public speaker, or a good administrator, they defined what was good differently than christians, but they said these things were objectively good, which they simply couldn't prove, socrates understood this.

Modern western philosophy has mostly rejected the greeks, I'm more talking about John Locke and his idea of inalienable rights, and natural rights and things like that. You know how the american constitution says "We hold these truths to be self evident", they took those "Truths" from John Locke, who used God to justify it. I myself don't see how everyone being equal is self evident, it sounds nice don't get me wrong, but so does that I'll go to a magical sugar mountain when I day.

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08-12-2014, 02:37 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:26 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 12:50 PM)tear151 Wrote:  It's not that I'm trying to keep a cool head, I just don't take philosophy personally, I never have, thank for you the words on encouragement though...
Yeah, I think some people are on guard in some atheist forums because there are quite a few theist that come by, drop a whole lot of crazy on us and try to convince us that we are wrong for not believing in gods.

I can see that for many people the idea that moral beliefs aren't real, and aren't of value can appear to be crazy.

My experience at philosophy forums is that they are much more open to discussing ideas like this, dissecting them, looking at them from various angles, kicking the tyres so to speak. They don't see it as a challenge to their personal beliefs or as an insult i.e. "You atheists have no morals!".
They are more like "What would the world look like if we disguarded the idea of morality?, How would society behave?" Which leads to the question "what is morality? what qualifies an action as moral or immoral?"

So what is your position then, do you agree with me that the world is indifferent to us, and that the will builds itself on a inherent nihilism?

There's a lack of sacred cow in your posts, I can respect that.

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08-12-2014, 02:40 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 12:26 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Self-interest IS a (moral) standard
Egoism comes in various flavours:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/egoism/

Descriptive egoism - "describes human nature as being wholly self-centered and self-motivated."
Normative egoism - "normative in that it stipulates the agent ought to promote the self above other values"
- Rational egoism - "claims that the promotion of one’s own interests is always in accordance with reason"
- Ethical egoism - "the promotion of one’s own good is in accordance with morality"

I would say that Ethical egoism is a form of moral belief, probably also Rational egoism but descriptive egoism doesn't require any moral beliefs underlying it.
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08-12-2014, 02:46 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2014 02:49 PM by tear151.)
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:40 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 12:26 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Self-interest IS a (moral) standard
Egoism comes in various flavours:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/egoism/

Descriptive egoism - "describes human nature as being wholly self-centered and self-motivated."
Normative egoism - "normative in that it stipulates the agent ought to promote the self above other values"
- Rational egoism - "claims that the promotion of one’s own interests is always in accordance with reason"
- Ethical egoism - "the promotion of one’s own good is in accordance with morality"

I would say that Ethical egoism is a form of moral belief, probably also Rational egoism but descriptive egoism doesn't require any moral beliefs underlying it.

My egoism is in the descriptive sense

It simply leads to certain things that would be considered moral being rational based on self interest alone, it replaces ethics with something concrete, and fundamentally subjective in a way that allows us to understand it more.

I don't hold egoism is rational, it's just how humans are, I have no choice, it's that or staying catatonic until I eventually starve to death. I.E, it's arational, but it's a puppeteer I do not control, reason is only used to feed the arational (Arbitrary) "master" that is "sub conscious drives" "Hormones", etc.

It also turns politics into reaching a compromise more than it is what is "good"

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08-12-2014, 02:51 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:37 PM)tear151 Wrote:  So what is your position then, do you agree with me that the world is indifferent to us, and that the will builds itself on a inherent nihilism?

There's a lack of sacred cow in your posts, I can respect that.
I would say that I am a descriptive egoist and a moral nihilist.

I see other people's moral beliefs as a potential threat rather than as a foundation for a peaceful society.

I often see moral beliefs used to try and control or judge others, I think without the idea of moral beliefs, moral obligation and the idea that others should act morally (however that is defined) then I think that leaves society open to the possibility of being non judgmental, tolerant and interestingly diverse.

I'm not an anarchist, I think we do need some enforced rules governing society, I just don't want these rules based on someone's moral beliefs. I mean, whose moral beliefs are those to be enforced? I also don't like the idea of forcing the majority view onto others and hence oppressing the minorities.

As a whole I think most western societies are moving towards the direction of being more tolerant and less "traditional" moralistic. Either governments are deciding to stick to their core responsibility of a safe and stable society or "morality" is changing such that people are becoming more tolerant of the diversity we see in our globally integrated societies.
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08-12-2014, 02:54 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:32 PM)tear151 Wrote:  If you just... subjectively care about those things, you have no reason not to, but equally nobody else has any reason to accept your views on the matter either. I personally care about the smooth running of society because I'm by nature a problem solver, and as someone who plans to work in academia I work mostly outside the regular gears of society, I'm not saying that as if it makes me better, in many ways it makes me pretty useless except to those who care about the academia. Again, that's something I've made up, it isn't by any means good or bad, as I have no objective standards, and it is not a "subjective morality" because it can be explained entirely in self interested terms, so to invent a new concept (I've started from literally nothing, remember, to start from nihilism assumes nothing, including not assuming morality) like "morality" to explain things simply isn't needed. It's a carry over from a theistic age, the term isn't needed.

Humans are naturally empathetic, so that empathy can be factored into ones own self interest. I'm basically applying occam's razor here, getting rid of the unneeded word "Morality" because it gives people too much leeway to be inconsistent.

Our self interest is our well-being and, according to Epicurus, our well-being depends on the well-being on others.

You simply cannot be happy if you are impeding the happiness of others. Are you saying that we should stop feeling bad for others so that we do whatever we want?

I should remind you that empathy was obviously favored by evolution because it helped us survive. If humans felt no empathy, given their intelligence and mental and physical capabilities, they would have killed one another. Are you arguing for a world without empathy? Think about it.

Just because there are no objectively "good" and "bad" things (even though I did point out that they can be replaced by "beneficial" and "harmful"), why should the word "morality" become obsolete? It's a philosophical term and philosophy is way beyond scientific and full of words that are obsolete in everyday speech.

(08-12-2014 02:35 PM)tear151 Wrote:  The greeks had an ethics system based on what is good, being powerful, or brave, or a good public speaker, or a good administrator, they defined what was good differently than christians, but they said these things were objectively good, which they simply couldn't prove, socrates understood this.

Modern western philosophy has mostly rejected the greeks, I'm more talking about John Locke and his idea of inalienable rights, and natural rights and things like that.

You are horribly mistaken.

Most of the points you mention about Ancient Greek ethics are nothing but insignificant. They valued friendship, love, good family relations, knowledge and education, justice and respect for society. Illegal activities like theft and murder were frowned upon. How different is this from Christian or Western ethics?

And of course they couldn't prove that these things were objective, that was more than 2000 years ago, if you haven't realized it. This simply proves all the more that there is something in human nature seperate from religion that shapes our morality, since Ancient Greeks had such similar ethics to ours without the influence of religion.

Which parts of Ancient Greek ethics has Western philosophy rejected?

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08-12-2014, 02:54 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:51 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:37 PM)tear151 Wrote:  So what is your position then, do you agree with me that the world is indifferent to us, and that the will builds itself on a inherent nihilism?

There's a lack of sacred cow in your posts, I can respect that.
I would say that I am a descriptive egoist and a moral nihilist.

I see other people's moral beliefs as a potential threat rather than as a foundation for a peaceful society.

I often see moral beliefs used to try and control or judge others, I think without the idea of moral beliefs, moral obligation and the idea that others should act morally (however that is defined) then I think that leaves society open to the possibility of being non judgmental, tolerant and interestingly diverse.

I'm not an anarchist, I think we do need some enforced rules governing society, I just don't want these rules based on someone's moral beliefs. I mean, whose moral beliefs are those to be enforced? I also don't like the idea of forcing the majority view onto others and hence oppressing the minorities.

As a whole I think most western societies are moving towards the direction of being more tolerant and less "traditional" moralistic. Either governments are deciding to stick to their core responsibility of a safe and stable society or "morality" is changing such that people are becoming more tolerant of the diversity we see in our globally integrated societies.

I simply push for what I want from the government, if I disagree with it I will do what I can to make sure it changes to fit my desires, out of a desire for peace, society makes me accept certain things, follow laws I disagree with, but in return I get safety, and protection from radicals who disagree with what I want.

Rather than see politics as us all disagreeing and there being a right answer, there isn't one, it's all subjective, we reach a compromise.

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08-12-2014, 02:57 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2014 03:03 PM by tear151.)
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:54 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:32 PM)tear151 Wrote:  If you just... subjectively care about those things, you have no reason not to, but equally nobody else has any reason to accept your views on the matter either. I personally care about the smooth running of society because I'm by nature a problem solver, and as someone who plans to work in academia I work mostly outside the regular gears of society, I'm not saying that as if it makes me better, in many ways it makes me pretty useless except to those who care about the academia. Again, that's something I've made up, it isn't by any means good or bad, as I have no objective standards, and it is not a "subjective morality" because it can be explained entirely in self interested terms, so to invent a new concept (I've started from literally nothing, remember, to start from nihilism assumes nothing, including not assuming morality) like "morality" to explain things simply isn't needed. It's a carry over from a theistic age, the term isn't needed.

Humans are naturally empathetic, so that empathy can be factored into ones own self interest. I'm basically applying occam's razor here, getting rid of the unneeded word "Morality" because it gives people too much leeway to be inconsistent.

Our self interest is our well-being and, according to Epicurus, our well-being depends on the well-being on others.

You simply cannot be happy if you are impeding the happiness of others. Are you saying that we should stop feeling bad for others so that we do whatever we want?

I should remind you that empathy was obviously favored by evolution because it helped us survive. If humans felt no empathy, given their intelligence and mental and physical capabilities, they would have killed one another. Are you arguing for a world without empathy? Think about it.

Just because there are no objectively "good" and "bad" things (even though I did point out that they can be replaced by "beneficial" and "harmful"), why should the word "morality" become obsolete? It's a philosophical term and philosophy is way beyond scientific and full of words that are obsolete in everyday speech.

(08-12-2014 02:35 PM)tear151 Wrote:  The greeks had an ethics system based on what is good, being powerful, or brave, or a good public speaker, or a good administrator, they defined what was good differently than christians, but they said these things were objectively good, which they simply couldn't prove, socrates understood this.

Modern western philosophy has mostly rejected the greeks, I'm more talking about John Locke and his idea of inalienable rights, and natural rights and things like that.

You are horribly mistaken.

Most of the points you mention about Ancient Greek ethics are nothing but insignificant. They valued friendship, love, good family relations, knowledge and education, justice and respect for society. Illegal activities like theft and murder were frowned upon. How different is this from Christian or Western ethics?

And of course they couldn't prove that these things were objective, that was more than 2000 years ago, if you haven't realized it. This simply proves all the more that there is something in human nature separate from religion that shapes our morality, since Ancient Greeks had such similar ethics to ours without the influence of religion.

Which parts of Ancient Greek ethics has Western philosophy rejected?

They felt that theft was unvirtuous, if they saw a poor beggar on the street, his poverty and lack of knowledge made him bad, because he's unvirtuous, it was elitist, Aristotle's idea of virtue ethics sums up the zeitgeist of the era quite well. It's based on ideas about what is objectively good for your personal development rather than was is good per se. Again my descriptive egoism (Thank you to poster who gave me that term, it's far more precise), accounts for this, because people like being educated, they like not being stolen from, I'm simply saying that's perfectly good enough a reason to lock people up and dislike people who steal from you, you don't have to take the next step of saying there's something "Wrong" about those actions.

Again, I need to stress this, self interest does not mean acting a way that is considered immoral, I can have friends, because that makes me feel good, it makes sense to give alms to the poor if that makes you feel good, I just think it's important to recognise it for what it is, a manifestation of a search for joy, and to not punish yourself for that, rather than it is something to claim makes you superior or was some metaphysical "Right thing to do".

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